Is it me, or is it becoming harder and harder to come up with an original idea? I mean, the next time you think you have one, start Googling. Chances are, you’re going to find other ideas that are strikingly similar to your own. They might even have a Wikipedia page.
Maybe it’s because people have been coming up with ideas for millennia now. Maybe it’s because there are so many people in the world that the odds of being original are so slim. Or maybe it’s because we’re all so connected. The ideas that would’ve passed for new in the past are now too readily exposed for being unoriginal.
Now that we’re all so connected, maybe the idea of a brainstorm is completely out of touch with reality. Maybe we should thinking about a cloudstorm instead.
Think about it: even if you’re sitting down with a group of people to “brainstorm” ideas, so much of what’s brought to the table is going to come in from the cloud — from what they’ve found through social networking and from all the things they’re likely to Google throughout the brainstorm cloudstorm session.
The thing is that we’re all constantly sharing and consuming bite-size thoughts through Twitter and Facebook and maybe blogs. And while one of our own bite-size thoughts might only be just that to us, it might be so much more to someone else, triggering a series of subsequent thoughts and ideas.
The end result is that we often arrive at conclusions without even knowing how we got there. We recall seeing a Tweet and our minds then running off on a tangent of its own, but we might not remember where we saw it, who Tweeted it, or even what that Tweet was.
Almost everyone is good for a at least a few great ideas in their time. But now that everyone can (and does) share everything all the time, it’s like it’s all been said before (one way or another) and it’s all on record. So suddenly, hardly anyone seems good for a single original thought.
And I’m not just talking about tech ideas. Tech is always evolving, and there’s constant speculation on where it’s going to go next (like this little blog post).
I’m also talking about ideas in general. You know, those little drops of wisdom that will still matter even when someone pulls the plug. Those ideas about love, life, and our time on this tiny little blue rock. Those ideas about human experience.
Of course, all this begs the question: With so much being so accessible at all times, are ideas losing their currency? Is our mindshare is losing value? And are we worse off for it?